Rusty Air in Carolina

From Wind Repertory Project
Mason Bates

Mason Bates

Subtitle: For Wind Ensemble & Electronica

General Info

Year: 2006 / 2015
Duration: c. 13:05
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Aphra Music
Cost: Score and Parts – Rental   |   Score Only - $40.00

Movements (played without pause)

1. Nan's Porch
2. Katydid Country
3. Southern Midnight
4. Dawn


Full Score
C Piccolo
Oboe I
Oboe II/English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III-IV
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
C Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Harp (optional)
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crotales, bowed
  • Glockenspiel
  • Hi-Hat
  • Log Drum
  • Marimba
  • Splash Cymbal
  • Suspended Cymbal (3)
  • Tam-Tam (3)
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone

Laptop Computer


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Originally for orchestra, this version was commissioned by the wind ensembles of the University of Texas at Austin, Arizona State University, and the University of Michigan.

- Program Note from publisher

To begin with: I'm a Virginian. Perhaps to anyone in the Carolinas, the task of conjuring up the rich summer noise of the South and pairing it with orchestral textures should be a job for an authentic Carolinian. But the memories are so vivid from that summer in Brevard, North Carolina -- where I spent several months at the music festival as a teenager -- that some sort of homage seemed necessary, so state pride will have to take a back seat.

Not only did the thick buzzing of cicadas and katydids always accompany the concerts there, but sometimes it was the music itself: on more than one occasion, I remember sitting on the porch of 100-year-old Nan Burt and listening to the sounds of summer while she told stories from her long life. This venerable lady was introduced to me by the assistant conductor at the festival, Robert Moody -- who, a mere ten years older than I, would become a dear friend and collaborator. When Bob took the helm at The Winston-Salem Symphony recently and asked if I might write a new piece for him, perhaps his own return to the Carolinas inspired Rusty Air. Though he travels the world, he's a Greenville boy.

The work uses electronics to bring the white noise of the Southern summer into the concert hall, pairing these sounds with fluorescent orchestra textures that float gently by. Nan's Porch begins at dusk, while the katydids make their chatter. Three orchestral clouds -- each inhabiting a different harmony, register, and orchestration -- hover in the heavy air, and they ultimately begin to meld together when the cicadas start their singing. The climax of this movement sends us into Katydid Country, when the ambience of the first movement evolves into a bluesy, rhythmic tune. The clicks of the katydids become a beat track over which the orchestra, in a smaller, more chamber setting, riffs on a simple tune inspired by old-time blues. It is said that katydids are loudest at midnight, and as the work reaches its central point, the rhythmic katydid music at last finds its melody.

Soaring in the strings over the last breaths of the blues tune, this long-lined melody moves us into Southern Midnight. The three distinct textures from the opening return, but now each is brought to life by a phrase of the melody. At the close of this lyrical section, we hover in that strange space between night and day, when only the singing of the first bird alerts us to the approaching dawn. But it is a hot, Southern dawn, both sparkling and heavy, with the air made rusty again by the buzzing cicadas (popularly called locusts). The bluesy tune begins to creep back into the middle register, while above and below figuration buzzes about in different tonalities.

- Program Note by composer (for orchestral version)


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Western Michigan University (Kalamazoo) Symphonic Band (Trey Harris, conductor) - 21 November 2021
  • United States Army Band (Ft. Myer, Va.) (Andrew Esch, conductor) – 22 February 2020
  • University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Symphonic Band (Jonathan Caldwell, conductor) – 18 February 2020
  • Colorado Wind Ensemble (Denver) (David Kish, conductor)– 17 November 2019
  • University of Oklahoma (Norman) Wind Symphony (Shanti Simon, conductor) – 6 October 2019
  • California State University, Stanislaus, Wind Ensemble (Stuart Sims, conductor) – 6 December 2018
  • Temple University (Philadelphia, Penn.) Wind Symphony (Patricia Cornett, conductor) – 28 September 2018
  • Shenandoah Conservatory (Winchester, Va.) Wind Ensemble (Timothy Robblee, conductor) - 21 April 2018
  • Nazareth College Wind Symphony (Rochester, N.Y.) (Jared Chase, conductor) - 29 October 2017
  • United States Coast Guard Band (New London, Conn.) (Richard Wyman, conductor) – 19 March 2017
  • Rowan University (Glassboro, N.J.) Wind Ensemble (Paul Higgins, conductor) – 8 December 2016
  • Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge) Wind Ensemble (Damon S. Talley, conductor) – 4 October 2016

Works for Winds by This Composer